Yoshiko Sai – Mikkō (1976)

Due to the great success of Yoshiko Sai’s first entry, simply the most viewed during this year, today we present another album of this incredible haunting artist!

Let’s go to our history:

Edo (modern Tokyo) became the seat of government for the military dictatorship in the early 17th century Japan, the so-called Edo period (1603–1867). With an ‘everlasting’ peace and prosperity, the merchant class at the bottom of the social order found themselves the greatest beneficiaries of the city’s rapid economic growth. Other classes were the samurai and the craftsmen. Many indulged in the entertainment of kabuki theatre, courtesans, and geisha of the pleasure districts.

The term Ukiyo (floating world) came to describe this hedonistic lifestyle. Printed or painted ukiyo-e images of this environment emerged in the late 17th century, the merchant class, who had become wealthy enough to afford to decorate their homes with such brilliant works. Depictions of beautiful women, kabuki actors and sumo wrestlers; scenes from history and folk tales; travel scenes and landscapes; flora and fauna; and erotica were amongst the popular themes. (!)

Utagawa Kuniyoshi, 1844
Utagawa Kuniyoshi, 1844

The peak period in terms of quantity and quality was marked by portraits of beauties and actors by masters such as Kiyonaga, Utamaro, and Sharaku in the late 18th century. This peak was followed in the 19th century by a pair of masters best remembered for their landscapes: Hokusai and Hiroshige. Following the deaths of these two, and against the technological and social modernization that followed the Meiji Restoration of 1868, ukiyo-e production went into steep decline.

Some ukiyo-e artists specialized in making paintings, but most works were prints. Artists rarely carved their own woodblocks for printing; rather, production was divided between the artist, who designed the prints; the carver, who cut the woodblocks; the printer, who inked and pressed the woodblocks onto hand-made paper; and the publisher, who financed, promoted, and distributed the works.

Hokusai, 1830-32
Hokusai, 1830-32

Japonisme, or Japonism, is a French term that was first used (theorized) by Jules Claretie in his book L’Art Francais in 1872, it refers to the influence of Japanese art on Western art. In 1854, Japan re-opened trade with the West (after 265 years of isolation) and Japanese artworks including fans, porcelains, woodcuts, and screens were introduced in huge numbers to Europe, mainly France and the Netherlands.

The 1862 World’s Fair in Europe brought even more attention to Japanese art, during the 1860’s ukiyo-e, Japanese woodblock prints, became very popular and were a source of inspiration to many impressionists and post-impressionist artists in the west including Monet, Manet, Degas, Gauguin, and Van Gogh. (!)

Utamaro, 1793
Utamaro, 1793

Let’s go to our album:

Released on July 25th, 1976, Mikkō was Sai Yoshiko’s second album, a wonderful acid-folk register on which she gets assisted by a string of big-name musicians such as Kuni Kawachi on arrangements. At times the disc draws in Indian influences (sitar and tabla), but once she gets to singing, the listener is lulled into her own private, mysterious sonic world, through which one gets sucked in by her wide-ranging vocalizations. At the time of this recording, she was merely 23 years old.

This is a quieter, entrained album, compared to Taiji No Yume, with less variety of styles, making a melodic somber entry. I really would like to know more details about the lyrics, will any Japanese friend could help us? This is such a stunner voyage of consciousness, welcome to the unique realms of Yoshiko Sai, be ready!

1977's Promo
1977’s Promo

The ‘IM’ highlights are Tenshi no Yōni and Mikkō.

Bonum Cursum!

Tracks Include:

A1 Theme ~ 母さまのうた (Theme ~ Kāsama no Uta)

A2 鏡地獄 (Kagami Jigoku)

A3 (Haru)

A4 絹之道 (Kinu no Michi)

B1 人のいない島 (Hito no Inai Shima)

B2 眠りのくに (Nemuri no Kuni)

B3 天使のように (Tenshi no Yōni)

B4 漂流船 (Hyōryūsen)

B5 密航 (Mikkō)

Translations, respectively:

Theme – Mother’s Song, Hell of Mirrors, Spring, Silk Road, Desert Island

Land of Sleep, Like an Angel, Ship Adrift and Stowing Away

Credits

  • Acoustic Guitar: 吉川忠英, 野間義男
  • Cello: 阿部雅士
  • Drums: 山下秀夫, 田中清司, 武田光司
  • Dulcimer: 生見慶二
  • Electric Bass: 江藤勲, 高水建司
  • Electric Guitar: 高中正義, 津村泰彦
  • Electric Guitar, Acoustic Guitar, Sitar (E. Sitar): 矢島賢
  • Flute: 中川昌三
  • Piano, Keyboards: 大谷和夫, 松岡直也
  • Strings: 新音楽協会
  • Tabla: 瀬上養之助
  • Vibraphone: クニ河内
  • Arranged: クニ河内 (Kuni Kawashi)
  • Lyrics, Music: 佐井好子 (Yoshiko Sai)
  • Engineer伊豫部富治
  • IllustrationYoshiko Sai
  • Design (Cover Design) – Teichiku Design Section
  • Directed: 春名勇

Companies

  • Made: Teichiku Records Co., Ltd.
  • Recorded: Sound Creation Studio
  • Mixed: AMS Studio

Recorded at Teichiku No.1 Studio and Sound Creation Studio.

Mixdown at AMS Studio from March to May 1976.

Black ‎– BAL-1018

Deuter – Aum (1972)

cover

It was English musician, sound designer, and conceptualist Brian Eno who first officially coined the phrase ambient, in the sleeve notes to his 1978 opus Ambient 1: Music For Airports he defines it as music designed to induce calm and space to think. One of ambient music’s prime sources is the classical avant-garde. Among the pioneers were two late-19th Century composers, Claude Debussy, and Erik Satie.

Satie’s concept of furniture music for solo piano or small ensembles now seems surprisingly congruous with Eno’s concept of ambiance: creating a sound environment that complimented the surrounds rather than intruded upon it. More musically direct but just as subtle and suggestive was the work of Debussy, who’s wandering, impressionistic tone poems like Prelude To The Afternoon of The Fawn heralded an openness in Western music, bursting the rules in structure/linear composition.

Debussy & Satie
Debussy & Satie

By the middle of the 20th Century, the American composer John Cage had blown stuffy notions of proper music right out of the water. He pre-empted world music with pieces that evoked the sounds of Africa, India, and Indonesia; he invented and composed for the prepared piano with objects stuck in piano wires to create Asian-like tones and percussive textures; and he perplexed his audiences with collisions of randomly created noise and, most infamously, his piece 4’33” which challenged listeners to consider silence as a perfect form of musical expression.

After Cage, the 60s saw the rise of a school of American composers with classical backgrounds who became known as minimalists (La Monte Young, Terry Riley, Steve Reich, Philip Glass). They took the idea of repetition and explored it over long distances, whether with orchestras, electric instruments or non-Western instrumental combinations. In turn, minimalism was to inform music as diverse as Krautrock, techno and new age music. German composer Karl Stockhausen further explored Cage’s tape experiments with odd collages, a precursor to modern digital sampling.

John Cage, Variations V
John Cage, Variations V

This was also a time of absorption of avant-garde ideas into rock music. In the late 60s rock was enriched enormously by a combination of electronic music technology, psychedelic drugs, and the innovations of jazzmen like Miles Davis. The classical music of India also made a significant impact on Western musicians, initially championed by minimalists from the classical world such as Terry Riley and La Monte Young and then absorbed by The Beatles and The Incredible String Band.

Krautrock pioneers such as Tangerine Dream, Popol Vuh, and Ash Ra Tempel took the next step by downplaying or abandoning pop’s emphasis on lyrics and taking audiences into totally new spaces. The tracks were instrumental, improvised, spacey and long. Rock was undergoing its own avant-garde and the open-ended sound of one instrument in particular: the analog synthesizer. Such an important tool of expression that music that’s been released since then simply wouldn’t exist without it!

Tangerine Dream
Tangerine Dream

Let’s go to our history:

Born Georg Deuter in 1945, in post-war Germany’s town of Falkenhagen, he taught himself ‘just about every instrument I could get my hands on’, though it wasn’t until after a near-fatal car crash in his early twenties that he decided to pursue a career in music. His first release in 1971, entitled D, marked the beginning of Deuter’s spiritual and musical journey, ostensibly paving the way for a new genre: New Age (Ambient).

Which combined acoustic and electronic elements with ethnic instrumentation and nature sounds, such as whale/bird song, the open sea, wind in the trees, rain, etc.

Deuter, 70s
Deuter, 70s

During the 70s and 80s, after traveling extensively through Asia in search of spiritual and creative inspiration, Deuter settled for a long time in Pune, India, where under the name Chaitanya Hari he became a neo-sannyasin, a disciple of Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh (Osho). With the aid of a multitrack tape machine, he produced a series of music tapes to be used in active meditations, consisting of several stages of ten or fifteen minutes each, which range between Indian classical motifs, fiery drums, loops, synthesizers, bells, musique concrète, and pastoral acoustic passages.

In the early 90s, Deuter ended his long-standing relationship with Kuckuck, the small record label that had released nearly 20 original albums, and relocated to Santa Fe, New Mexico where he signed a deal with New Earth Records, an independent label founded by fellow sannyasin Bhikkhu Schober and Waduda Paradiso. This proved to be a lucrative move for all involved, the majority of them intended to accompany various healing/spiritual practices such as Reiki, massage and meditation.

Western + Eastern
Western + Eastern

Deuter continues to learn and master an ever-expanding array of instruments, including the shakuhachi flute, the koto, sitar, Tibetan singing bowls, santoor, bouzouki, piano, and keyboard. He has recorded and released over 60 albums and claims to have sold more than he can count during the course of his career. (!)

Let’s go to our album:

This album sounds like when you keep waking up from dreaming and you can’t quite tell what’s the reality and what’s part of your dreams. That alternate dimension between the real world and the dream world, where nothing is in focus and you merely catch fleeting glimpses of images as they roll past your mind’s eye. Each song on Aum fades into silence before continuing into the following track, creating the feeling that they are all separate entities, unrelated to each other.

Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh
Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh

Drums, flute, guitar, and sitar, combined with the sounds of the ocean, create a variety of different moods and feelings. Some of the pieces are more meditative and reflective, while others are more rhythmic. Deuter is a highly skilled musician who joins his musical talent with spiritual insight and sensitivity.

Welcome to another example of transcendental music, such as Alice Coltrane’s previous post, today’s album has also a distinct imprint, leaving the controversial Guru aside, let’s just stick to Deuter’s heavenly music, ok?

Deuter, Lately
Deuter, Lately

Even though not being a diehard fan of New Age music, this Lp takes us to an atemporal world of discovery, freedom, and breaking of paradigms. Only a political and social landscape as Germany, would have so many strands and styles within a musical scene such as Krautrock, light an incense and put your headphones.

Enjoy the album as a whole and Udhëtimi I Mirë!

Tracks Include:

A1 Phoenix / Aum / Soham

A2 Offener Himmel 1 / Gleichzeitig / Offener Himmel 2 / Sattwa / Morning Glory

B Soma / Sunrat Shabda / Abraxas / Susani / The Key

Credits

  • Artwork (Cover) – Manfred Manke
  • Composed By, Performer, Producer – Georg Deuter
  • Music by, Arranged by – Deuter

 Kuckuck ‎– 2375 017

Darß (Darss), Coastline
Darß (Darss), Coastline

Alice Coltrane W/ Strings – World Galaxy (1972)

capa cópiaToday’s record has a distinct imprint, something really powerful, different from everything that already appeared here. With a very suggestive name, i invite you all to enter in a spiritual journey led by the surpassing Alice Coltrane, namaste!

Let’s go to our history:

Born and raised in the religious family of Solon and Anne McLeod in Detroit, Michigan, Alice McLeod (August 27, 1937 – January 12, 2007) became interested in music and began her study of the piano at the age of 7. She consistently and diligently practiced and studied classical music. Subsequently, she enrolled in a more advanced study of the music of Rachmaninoff, Beethoven, Stravinsky, and Tchaikovsky.

Alice: ‘Classical music for me, was an extensive, technical study for many years. At that time, I discovered it to be a piece of truly profound music with a highly intellectual ambiance. The classical artist must respectfully recreate the composer’s meaning. Although, with jazz music, you are allowed to develop your own creativity, improvisation, and expression. This greatly inspires me.’ (!)

Heavenly Strings
Heavenly Strings

With a scholarship to the Detroit Institute of Technology, her musical achievements began to echo throughout the city, to the extent that she played in many music halls and churches, for various occasions as weddings, funerals, and religious programs. Her skills and abilities were highly enhanced when she began playing piano and organ for the (gospel) junior and senior choirs at her church.

But her brother, bassist Ernie Farrow, introduced her to jazz early on, and as a teen, she became quite taken with bop and its offshoots. In Detroit, she played piano on sessions with masters like guitarist Kenny Burrell and saxophonist Lucky Thompson. By the early 60’s she was sharing the bandstand with vibes player Terry Gibbs, it was on tour with Gibbs that she met saxophonist John Coltrane.

John & Alice
John & Alice

Their 1965 wedding was the start of a musical union as well. When she replaced pianist McCoy Tyner in the classic Coltrane Quartet there was hubbub in the jazz world. But John Coltrane’s music was unfolding further with every passing month, he had begun probing musical motifs and deep inspiration from the East.

When her husband died in 1967, Alice continued working with members of his last group, including Garrison, saxophonist Pharoah Sanders, and drummer Rashied Ali. She began playing the harp, utilizing sitar and tablas in the ensemble, and turning fully to Eastern cultures for inspiration. Spiritual and colorful, her music morphed into the soundtrack for prayer and meditative techniques. (!)

70's Alice
70’s Alice

Coltrane was a devotee of the Indian guru Sathya Sai Baba, and over the 70’s she established herself into the Vedantic Center, in California, changing his name to Turiya and evolving as a spiritual Hindu guru. Even releasing some albums through the 80’s and 90’s, she decided to diminished their public appearances, and following a 25-year break from major public performances, returning to the stage for three U.S. appearances in the fall of 2006, with a concert for the San Francisco Jazz Festival with her son Ravi, drummer Roy Haynes, and bassist Charlie Haden.

Alice Coltrane died of respiratory failure at West Hills Hospital in LA, aged 69. (RIP)

Alice & Swami Satchidananda
Alice & Swami Satchidananda

Let’s go to our record:

This big lush symphonic beauty must be heard over and over, with no distinction of tracks or highlights, Alice’s music creates his own wash of color and dynamic for the strings to fall like water from the sky into her mix, it shifts and change constantly as the rhythm section responds, in the prism of Coltrane’s textured harpistry.

This set may take some getting used to for some, but it’s easily one of the strongest records Alice Coltrane ever released, and one of the finest moments in 70’s jazz!

Prepare yourself and be ready for the voyage, चांगल्या ट्रिप!

Tracks Include:

A1 My Favorite Things (Rogers – Hammerstein)

A2 Galaxy Around Olodumare

A3 Galaxy In Turiya

B1 Galaxy In Satchidananda

B2 A Love Supreme (Coltrane)

All Galaxys composed by Alice Coltrane

Personnel

  • Alice Coltrane: percussion, piano, organ, harp, tamboura
  • Reggie Workman: bass
  • Ben Riley: drums
  • Elayne Jones: timpani
  • Frank Lowe: saxophone, percussion
  • Swami Satchidananda: voice
  • Leroy Jenkins: solo violin

The String Orchestra

  • David Sackson: concertmaster (all other members, strings)
  • Alan Shulman
  • Arthur Aaron
  • Avron Coleman
  • Edward Green
  • Harry Glickman
  • Henry Aaron
  • Irving Spice
  • Janet Hill
  • Joan Kalisch
  • Julien Barber
  • Ronald Lipscomb
  • Seymour Miroff
  • Thomas Nickerson
  • William Stone

Credits

  • Arranged, Orchestrated, Producer – Alice Coltrane
  • Cover, Design – Peter Max
  • Engineer (Assistant) – Dan Tuberville, Dennis Ferrante
  • Mixed By – Baker Bigsby
  • Mixed At – The Village Recorder (LA)
  • Narrator – Swami Satchidananda (tracks: B1, B2)
  • Photography By – Philip Melnick
  • Producer – Ed Michel
  • Recorded By – Tom Flye
  • Recorded At – Record Plant, NYC

Recorded November 15 and 16, 1971, at The Record Plant (NYC)

Impulse AS-9218

Alice's Lastly Portrait
Alice’s Lastly Portrait